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Navigation Safety Bylaw

Bay of Plenty's harbours, lakes and rivers are used by thousands of people every day for a wide range of activities. To help ensure these activities can co-exist safely, rules are set under the Navigation Safety Bylaw to help manage them. You can view a copy of the new Navigation Safety Bylaw, which comes into effect 1 July 2017, here:

You can read more about how we developed the bylaw below. 

Bylaw review

Regional Council must review the Bylaw every five years, giving us the opportunity to take a closer look at what’s working well and what needs to be refined. The latest review began in December 2015 and a new Bylaw was adopted on 14 February 2017.

What's new in the 2017 Bylaw?

While most of the clauses in the Bylaw stayed the same, the key changes are summarised here and outlined below. Please note this is not a full list of all changes.

People on board a vessel 6m or less must now wear a lifejacket unless the skipper, who is over the age of 15, has assessed the risk and specifically authorised that it is not required to be worn.  There are a number of exceptions to the rules, such as the need to wear lifejackets in times of heightened danger, and these have not changed.


All Personal Water Craft (jet ski) used in Bay of Plenty waterways will need to be registered with the Regional Council or other participating Council. This will ensure operators causing a nuisance, as well as stolen vessels, are easier to identify.


A moving prohibited zone has been established for large vessels over 500 gross tonnes in Tauranga Harbour. This means that in the main navigation channel boaties are not allowed to navigate 500m in front of, and 50m each side of, these large ships.


For safety reasons, The Hunters Creek ski area will now be closed to ski traffic two hours either side of low tide.


Boaties are not permitted to anchor in the same area of Tauranga Harbour for more than 14 consecutive days.


Boaties are not permitted to secure their boat to a mooring without permission of the owner.


To help with identification, powered vessels over 4m and non-powered vessels over 6m are required to be clearly marked with a name or number, consisting of a minimum of two letters or numbers, which must not be a vessel’s brand, make or model. The name and number must be of a contrasting colour that is legible from a distance of 50 metres, with a minimum height of 90 millimetres and each digit having a minimum width of 80 millimetres, or compliant with a national sporting body standard.Smaller vessels are encouraged to ensure some form of identification is on their vessel to help with determining ownership or knowing who we may be looking for in event of an emergency


To reduce confusion between a passive recreation area, a definition for a Non-Water sports Area has been added to the Bylaw. A Non-Water sports Area, is an area that is not allowed to be used for more active water sports like water skiing, using personal water craft or other high impact recreational activities.

To ensure popular boating spots are shared safely, new reserved areas have been added and minor changes made to some existing ones too. These include:

  • New reserved area for swimming at Lake Aniwaniwa
  • New reserved area for swimming in Whakatāne Harbour
  • Adjustment to the reserved area in Matutu Arm, Lake Rotoiti
  • New non-watersports area at Waipu Bay in Tauranga Harbour
  • Limited speed uplifting for jetboat operator on Lake Rotorua

 Read the Independent Commissioners Report and Recommendations of the Draft Bay of Plenty Regional Council Navigational Bylaw 2016 (324KB, pdf)